Professor Harpaz

The Supreme Court

Fall, 2006

Opinion Assignment

(Due: Monday, December 4)


1. You are to assume that you are now a Supreme Court Justice. After reading the briefs and hearing oral argument in the case you were assigned to judge, it is clear that your view of the case, whatever it may be, is also the view of a majority of the Court. As a result, you have been assigned the task of writing the majority opinion. To write the opinion, you will, of course, have to read the principal cases referred to in the briefs and not just rely on the litigants conflicting uses of those cases. If you choose, you may do independent research as well as relying on authorities in the opinion(s) below and the briefs of Petitioner and Respondent.


2. Your opinion should be no longer than 12 pages. One logical place to begin the opinion is with a statement of the basic legal issue presented to the Court. It is not necessary to include a lengthy recitation of the facts of the case. Any beginning factual statement should be as brief as possible (no more than three pages). Your principal use of the facts should be in your legal analysis. The facts should be intertwined with legal reasoning wherever necessary to present a persuasive legal argument. Past Supreme Court precedent or other case law that you choose to rely on should be included in your legal analysis. In addition, you should distinguish or reject apparently relevant cases that you refuse to follow.


3. Opinions are due anytime on Monday December 4. Opinions should be prepared using either Word or WordPerfect word processing software and sent to me as an attachment to an e-mail ( Opinions will be on time if they are sent to me by e-mail anytime on December 4 even if they are not delivered till after that date.


4. Your opinion should be double spaced. At a minimum, all margins (right, left, top and bottom) should be one inch. The text should be aligned with the margin on the left side of the page, but should not be “right justified.” The opinion should have a page number at the bottom of each page. Make sure that you spell check your opinion before submitting it. You should keep a copy of your opinion on your computer. All citations should follow the citation rules in The Bluebook.


Decision Day (December 5)


December 5, the last class meeting, is Decision Day. For this class meeting, all members of the class should prepare a brief (two or three minutes) summary of their opinion. This summary will be delivered orally in class and should include the result reached and the principal reasons relied on to support that result. The Justices will be called to the bench to announce the result they reached and briefly describe the reasoning that led to that result.